Mana Khemia: Student Alliance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am

Learn alchemy by fighting monsters and gathering ingredients in a wild forest, in the mountains and in creepy old schools. That is the premise of the new portable PlayStation game Mana Khemia: Student Alliance.

This is another Japanese role-playing game (RPG) that has been given a western makeover to make it accessible to the English-speaking market. But Mana Khemia differs from the previous Atelier Iris games. The setting is a school campus, and game play is sim-style RPG - gamers have to interact with other classmates and teachers to complete academic tasks.

Gamers are Vayne Aurelius, an orphaned boy shunned by others because of his strange powers. One day Vayne is invited to study at Al-Revis Academy for Novice Alchemists, where he befriends both human and not-so human alchemists. With their help he completes assignments and learns the mysteries of alchemy.

The game features a Japanese anime-style presentation, English voice dubbing and a great soundtrack. To lessen load times, the game has a function called 'Jump Start Install' that loads part of the game onto your memory stick.

Playing as Vayne, you have to go to class and carry out assignments. These assignments often require you to go off campus and get ingredients from locations infested with monsters. If you can navigate the monsters, then it's time to return to the workshop to brew the ingredients up.

Every new brew improves your battle statistics and helps you learn new spells and attack methods. This is a unique twist on the usual RPG points-for-experience playing methods.

Experimenting with different ingredients leads to new items, which makes for a more creative game. The alchemy assignments range from things as simple as salt to super-powerful weapons.

Unfortunately, if you fail a class assignment, you'll get detention. Ouch.